The Ghana Cocoa Board, COCOBOD, has scrapped the CMB Scholarship for wards of cocoa farmers in senior schools from hence.
The decision has been necessitated by the implementation of the government’s flagship education programme, Free Senior High School programme (FSHS) in September 2017.
The Chief Executive of COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, announced this in the Ashanti Region when he addressed cocoa farmers at separate durbars at Tontokrom in the Amansie West district, Obuasi, Adansi Atobiase in the Adansi South District and Brofoyedru in the Adansi North District.
The interactions were part of a three-day working tour of major cocoa growing districts in the Region by a management delegation of the cocoa regulatory organization. The delegation, which was headed by the Chief Executive, was to enable the COCOBOD to learn at first hand the challenges being complained of by the farmers and other stakeholders in the industry, discuss programmes by COCOBOD to boost national production and also to visit selected farms.
The COCOBOD Chief Executive explained that once the FSHS policy has absorbed the financial obligation of parents towards their wards education, COCOBOD cannot maintain the CMB Scholarship.
The Scholarship Scheme was established many years ago in line with the COCOBOD’s corporate social responsibility of giving back to cocoa farmers whose production continues to be the economic backbone of Ghana.
It allowed cocoa farmers with wards in secondary schools to apply for consideration under the Scheme to lessen their financial commitment towards the children’s schooling. Through this Scheme, many otherwise poor cocoa farmers have been able to educate their brilliant but needy children to complete at least second cycle schools.
Addressing cocoa farmer durbars at Tontokrom and Adansi Atobiase, Mr. Boahen Aidoo noted that COCOBOD will now redirect funds that would have gone into the Scholarship Scheme into the construction of physical infrastructure at the pre-school and basic school levels.
These facilities are to be located at places identified by the beneficiary communities where children travel long distances to attain formal education. The initiative, Mr. Boahen Aidoo noted, is to enhance access to basic education in the country.
The Chief Executive’s announcement comes in the wake of several denials by top officials of COCOBOD that the Scholarship Scheme has been scrapped. Touching on other concerns of farmers, Mr. Boahen Aidoo disclosed that government will receive 100 thousand motorized slashers by November this year for distribution among cocoa farmers nationwide to maintain their farms.
The motorized slasher, he said, can serve a dual purpose of clearing weeds and also prune overgrown branches. The machines will be given out only through the farmer Cooperatives.
He noted that the importation of the machines is to replace the application of weedicides, some of which are dangerous to human health, from cocoa production.
On ensuring fairness for farmers and licensed buying companies, the COCOBOD Chief Executive also announced that government plans to introduce electronic weighing scales for the purchase of cocoa beans very soon and that any LBC identified to have cheated farmers using an adjusted weighing scale would be made to refund the shortfall, the proceed of which will be given back to the farmers.
Mr. Boahen Aidoo entreated farmers to stop the application of Two-Four D on their farms. They should also do away with the use of children in production while helping to protect reserved forests from encroachment.
If such practices are stopped, Ghana’s cocoa would continue to enjoy higher premium and patronage on the global market in the ultimate interest of every farmer, he added.